Tuesday 27 March 2012

Subscribing to Blogs...

or What's in a number...

This time last month, there were numerous posts on the implications of GFC disappearing for non-Blogger blogs. There was lots of talk about how to keep following blogs. We were asked to sign up for newsletters,  subscribe to RSS feeds, sign up for email and to join the new Linky Followers.

Having a Blogger blog, there have been no changes for me. (I can't speak for non-Blogger blogs.) Without doing anything, I still receive all the RSS feeds I received before. They are in my Dashboard and in my RSS reader of choice.

I use Google Reader to keep track of all the blogs I read. The majority of blogs automatically show up because I follow the blogs via GFC. The rest, I add the RSS feeds manually, whether they be Blogger, Wordpress or whatever. I am happy with how Google Reader functions, but more importantly for me, I don't have to log in to yet another thing. Whether I count as a number on the blogs I follow, depends on how I follow. If I add the feed manually, I don't count, unless their blog is redirected and burnt to a feed. (I think.)

There are lots of other RSS readers out there, both free and paying. Google it and you'll see how many there are. I can't comment on their usefulness or how good they are, because I've never used them. I did investigate signing up for one of them, but the fact that I would have to sign in put me off. I would be interested in hearing the advantages and disadvantages of other RSS readers.

Last month there was a lot of talk about a new tool for following blogs; Linky Followers. I did add this to my blog, but am not sure whether I will keep it or not. I also followed a few non-Blogger blogs. As with all RSS readers, the blog you are following doesn't have to have the Linky Followers widget. Same as with Google Reader, you just manually add the URL for the blog you want to subscribe to. However, there is a difference between Linky Followers and other RSS readers... with Linky Followers, the blog owner has to manually update their feed each time they post. I haven't logged in to Linky Followers and updated my last post yet, so others who are using Linky Followers to read my blog, can't see my Easter Baskets post. There's a couple of big blogs I followed, who haven't updated their feeds since the beginning of March. Even though I have followed a few blogs via Linky Followers, I actually keep up with their blogs via Google Reader, so it doesn't matter to me whether they update or not. I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who follows Threading My Way via Linky Followers. Would it matter to you if I stop updating my posts via the widget and delete it?

How else can you follow a blog? Most blogs have a Follow by Email link. Put your email address in, click submit and your email is sent, to... Where is your email address sent to? If you are on a Blogger blog, perhaps the email will be sent to Google or perhaps Feedburner. I'm not sure. Do you know? On other blogs, I don't have a clue where your email is sent. The blog owner can see how many people are signed up to receive blog posts by email, but cannot see who is signed up or what their email addresses are.

There is another way to receive blog posts via email, without sending your email address to anyone. Well, I know it can be done on a Mac computer, so I assume it can be done on Windows. My email program (Mail) has an RSS reader incorporated in it. I simply go to File > Add RSS feed. You can then read the blog post from the email program like you would Google Reader, or you can click through to the actual post. Before I owned a blog, this is how I read blog posts and I still follow a few blogs this way; just a few that I don't read often.

If you follow a blog via email, will the blog owner be able to count you as a number?
  • If you send your email address via the Follow by Email link, yes, the blog owner will be able to see you as a number.
  • If you add the RSS feed to your email program, the blog owner won't be able to count you as a number, unless their blog is redirected and burnt to a feed. I know next to nothing about burning a blog feed and redirecting, but I would be interested in finding out how this works from anyone who uses it. I know that when you add the Follow by Email widget, a feed is burnt via Feedburner, but the blog is not redirected.

Most Blogger blogs have this little widget in their side bar. This gives you the option to subscribe to a blog's RSS feed via a variety of readers. I think (but I'm not positive), that you don't count as a number when you subscribe this way.

On some blogs, when you subscribe to RSS, you are taken to a Feedburner signup. The blog owner will not know who you are, but will be able to see you as a number.

Does it matter if you count as a number on someone's blog? I personally don't worry about how many followers I have and I'm not too keen on the term followers. Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased that people like to stay up to date with and read my blog and I do get a kick out of seeing those numbers grow. However, it is more important to me that people want to read my blog and interaction is even more important. I can gauge interest most readily through comments. My stats tell me how many have visited, but not what they thought.

Pinterest is an exception to this. Someone can come, read and leave without a comment, so they just show on your stats. If they pin a post, that's as good as a comment to me. In fact, it means they like the post enough to want to come back to it. I know there's a lot of talk about the pros and cons of Pinterest  at the moment. I'll leave my mixed thoughts on that for another post.

Facebook and Twitter are other ways to follow blogs. I'm sure there's lots of other ways that I am unaware of, too.

If you read my blog on a regular basis, whether you leave comments or not, I would love to know how you receive updates on posts.

Two more questions for those of you who use Google Reader. There is one blog (that I follow via GFC and with whom I want to stay up to date), that keeps disappearing from my reader. No matter how many times I add their RSS feed to Google Reader, it just disappears. Can anyone help me?

Secondly, I am trying to unsubscribe to one blog, but no matter how many times I unsubscribe, it keeps reappearing. Has anyone else had this happen?

As you can tell, there's a lot I DON'T know about RSS feeds. If anything in my post is inaccurate, please leave me a (nice) comment.

... Pam


  1. Thank you for the clarification. I have linky and I HATE having to manually update my last post. I usually forget. Do you think the GFC thing was just a rumor? Maybe I should get it. All I have ever depended on is the blogger dashboard. It is super easy to just click follow on all blogger blogs, and I can just add the blog address to the list if it isn't. So even though I do follow you via linky, I never log in for updates. I just come visit your blog whenever I see it updated on my dashboard. I wouldn't be offended if you stopped updating linky or even got rid of it.

  2. I have a section in my sidebar for "Lovely Bloggers," and these are the posts I read daily. I have "followed" many, many GFCs, way more than I could read on a daily basis. There are many reasons to "follow," including requirement for giveaways, you especially liked a particular post, and I suppose just to be nice :) I'm very happy to say that you've been in my list of readers (sidebar) for some time ... because we share a mutual interest, which is sewing. I hope to learn much from you and enjoy your posts. I agree with you about stats - after a while, what do they really mean...not much. But it's the comments, the interactions, which reflect the reason we really blog - to connect with our readers. Thanks for this thought-provoking post. Hugs ~ Mary

  3. I agree it is annoying that you manually have to update your post in Linky. But I kinda like Linky and keeping it because I am not sure what other changes GFC will try to make in the future. Even if you do not update your latest post in Linky, I will still check your blog because I know you update it regularly.

  4. And yes, I have seen blogs disappearing from the Blogger reading list. Blogger claims the issue is fixed and I have not seen it lately. But the issue may be coming back again...another reason for me to keep Linky for now.

  5. I read thru blogger dashboard and have also had blogs i follow disapear and am unable to unsubscribe to blogs at the moment, i auspect it is a bug that will be fixed in due course. I am techo-useless and have no idea about rss feeds and the like and how they operate x

  6. I use Google Reader and yes, sometimes blogs disappear. A little bit annoying, but I'm prepared to put up with it as I like just being signed in to one place. I also use twitter and there are some blogs that I follow there rather than in Google Reader because I've never managed to get them to stay in the reader. Of course that only works if the blogger tweets their new post - but I'm sure most use an automated Twitter / Facebook feed (as do I).

  7. Hi! All that is quite complicated and I have wordpress. I follow you and most of my favourite blogs with Google reader. I have few blogs that always after a while disappears - don't know why. Also sometimes posts come very late to my reader (even after few days). I have subscribed to some blogs to receive e-mail. That I began before I knew how to work with the google reader. I have twitter but I haven't really used (learnt) to use it.
    x Teje

  8. I am beginning to get seriously peeved with google reader. There are a few blogs that I cannot get rid of. I can successfully erase them for a while and then WHAM they're back. Others disappear randomly. Its pretty frustrating!
    I have heard really good things about bloglovin and am seriously thinking about changing to that as a reader. I know that a couple of people already follow my blog using this and just checking now, you have a few followers with it too...

  9. I rss blogs and have them on my google homepage. For a while blogs automatically went to Google reader when I rss's them using Google Chrome which I hated! I had to use Firefox to have the choice between reader or homepage. That problem seems to be fixed right now.

    If blogs are disappearing from the reader, I haven't missed them! I did have a lot of trouble getting blogs deleted from reader. As you all have stated, sometimes they just would not delete or randomly come back. SOO annoying! I can't really complain since it's free, though.

    One problem I am having is that occasionally the posts stop updating on my homepage. Once they stop, there is no way to get them started again.

  10. I did not know that you had to update to get your latest post on Linky Followers. I understand that he is a one-man show and it's free, but that is too much of a pain for my liking. I use Blog Lovin' to follow the blogs that I enjoy reading every day and it works great for me. There is an app for my iphone so I can check things when I'm out also and there is a little icon on my computer dashboard so that I can tell when something has been added. I follow people via GFC and linky, but don't actually read the blogs that way. Thanks for the headsup about LInky.

  11. Lots of food for thought here Pam! When I pop over to feedburner, I can see how many email subscribers I have and I can see there email addresses too. I think you see it under the 'optimize' tab. I have been using my dashboard but I quite like Bloglovin as well - I only log in to the site when I want to add blogs, but otherwise they send a daily email with all the day's new posts. I have never used Google Reader, just my Blogger Dashboard and now Bloglovin. For blogs I really like and don't want to miss, I like them on Facebook and twitter as well. I haven't investigated Linky Followers yet.

  12. Oh yeah, and I recommend this website - I recently found it and there is a lot of really great stuff about craft blogging. http://crafterminds.com/

  13. I use google reader. I've been trying to delete some blogs in there for months and months but they just keep coming back, it's really annoying. I hope i'm not the blog you're trying to delete!

  14. I read your blog via Google Reader.

  15. Google Reader...it's nice to have all the blogs I read in one place. I keep meaning to go through and organize them...

  16. thank you for all this information!! I am just winging it with all the google stuff and it seems to be working ok, but I really don't know for sure exactly what i am doing! I think I may be spending too much time trying to figure things out,,.. i appreciate your thoughts!!
    and I am now your newest GFC follower..pls follow back if you can.

  17. I use google reader and haven't had any problems. I read blogs on my iphone and have no trouble deleting or adding blogs or feeds. So far!

  18. LINKY- not sure it's worth it. Before and beginning of my blog, I kept a folder on my computer of shortcuts to blogs I wanted to revisit. They were sorted into folders, i.e. decorating, crafts, recipes, sewing, quilting, photography. If I REALLY want to follow a site frequently, they go on "My Blog List" on the side bar of my blog arranged with newest post first..and you are there.

  19. Hi Pam, I'm a new blogger and try not to pester people until I learn what I'm doing.I use Google Reader.I have you as a GFC and I subscribe to your email so it doesn't matter if you update or not, I still get your blogs. which I enjoy very much and am learning a lot from you.I am posting some of my crafts but haven't started posting any of my sewing yet.I am planning to, as soon as I can get the hang of all this, there's so much to learn and some of it is so confusing but ,I'll get it before long. I hope everyone will be patient with me until I do,until then I'll keep trying. Thanks for all your blogs and tutes they mean so much.
    Sandra Cook


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